There is no known preventive measure for type 1 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes – which accounts for 85–90% of all cases – can often be prevented or delayed by maintaining a normal body weight, engaging in physical activity, and consuming a healthy diet. Higher levels of physical activity (more than 90 minutes per day) reduce the risk of diabetes by 28%. Dietary changes known to be effective in helping to prevent diabetes include maintaining a diet rich in whole grains and fiber, and choosing good fats, such as the polyunsaturated fats found in nuts, vegetable oils, and fish. Limiting sugary beverages and eating less red meat and other sources of saturated fat can also help prevent diabetes. Tobacco smoking is also associated with an increased risk of diabetes and its complications, so smoking cessation can be an important preventive measure as well.
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The prevalence of prediabetes is also on the rise, as it’s estimated that almost 34 million U.S. adults were prediabetic in 2015. People with prediabetes have blood glucose levels that are above normal but below the defined threshold of diabetes. Without proper intervention, people with prediabetes are very likely to become type 2 diabetics within a decade.